Eastman Roadster Update


I’ve made a few updates to my Eastman Roadster bike. I got the thing in late November of last year, rode it once, and pretty much haven’t ridden it since. It was a single speed. The rod brakes were terrible, and made changing the wheel an enormous pain in the ass.

The Eastman in its original configuration

The frame has no provision for a dérailleur, and it doesn’t even have any way to put proper brakes on it. So, I had Hiawatha Cyclery build me a new rear wheel with a Sturmey Archer XL-RD5(W) hub. This means I now have 5 gears instead of one, and drum brakes in the hub.

I had the frame cold-set for 130mm in the back (it was 110mm from the factory). I tore off all the rod brake hardware, including the stem and handlebars. I had a dirt drop stem and some albatross bars laying around anyhow, and they seem to work out ok.

Sturmey-Archer 5 speed hub

The clamp that came with the hub to hold the reaction arm in place was too small for the beefy chainstays, so I got a “Roadster Brake Clip” from Harris Cyclery, and that fits pretty nicely. You can see in the above picture how badly I boogered up the paint job trying to make the SA clip work.

I’m not sure if the full chaincase will still work with all the re-aligning of the back end. I’m too timid with the cottered cranks to find out for the moment.

Here she is in her current state.

Eastman Roadster - a work in progress

I still have a few parts on order. I accidentally stripped the threads in the seatpost binder so the seat slips a lot when I ride her. I hope the new binder gets here by Monday night, because I’d like to ride her in the Bike Summit on Tuesday.

If Sturmey Archer ever gets their production issues sorted out, I’d like to get an XL-FDD for the front. I’m a little too scared to go down the big hill on my commute with only a rear brake, and my regal corpulence demands the 90mm brakes instead of the measly 70mm ones in the X-FDD.

With sealed drum brakes fore and aft, a totally sealed drivetrain, and dynamo lighting, this thing could easily be the ideal winter commute bike. Especially since it fits pretty big tires. I have a 37mm Pasela in the back now, and I’m sure I could get a 40mm Marathon Winter to fit.

9 thoughts on “Eastman Roadster Update

  1. @Scott, I may have to leave that cover off. The first time I tried to drive out the cotter with a hammer, I missed and banged the pie plate thing up pretty good.

    USPS says my seatpost binder is out for delivery, so I should be able to ride it in the rally thing tomorrow. You going?

  2. Daniel

    Never heard of drum brakes before. They use the chain as a brake? Very interesting. I gotta google how that actually works. Bike looks good though.

  3. yup. Needs a chaincase or guard of some kind – maybe VO would have something if you can’t get that one back on. For the front, would a long reach caliper fit that fork?

  4. Drum brakes are definitely the way to go on that one, but a caliper in the meantime is better than nothing. I have some old long-reach center pulls around here if you want to try one.

  5. eastman

    I tried an Eastman myself. I found the bottom bracket cups weren’t tempered. One cracked after about 12 miles.

    Give the rod brakes another chance. I got some decent power out of mine and the look of the brakes is a large part of the charm of the bike. The front brake has a lot more leverage than the rear; if you are a rear brake guy maybe you could switch links, but the bars couldn’t turn as freely.

  6. eastman

    I have found the issue with the rod brakes was that you need to windex the rims and pads. They also don’t work in wet weather but no chrome rims do in my experience.

    Rod brake sets for actuating drum brakes instead of stirrup brakes are available on ebay.

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